Purge victim dies while trying to cross Evros River

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Cemil Karabidek, a former sergeant who was dismissed from the military by an emergency decree as part of Turkey’s post-coup purge of state institutions, died on Wednesday while trying to cross the Evros River, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.

Karabidek, 53, had three children, according to the Bold Medya news website.

In addition to the thousands who have been jailed since a coup attempt in July 2016, scores of people have fled Turkey due to a massive purge carried out by the Turkish government against alleged members of the Gülen movement, inspired by Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen. Many have tried to illegally flee Turkey as the government had canceled the passports of thousands of people.

Since 2016 the number of Turks seeking asylum in Western European countries has been on the rise. Turks filed 2,571 asylum applications in the EU, Norway and Switzerland (EU+) in November, the largest group of asylum seekers after Afghans, Syrians, Iraqis, Venezuelans and Pakistanis, according to an analysis released by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA).

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces, were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

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